Annapolis Royal; Rich in History, Beautiful Gardens & A Grave Tour To Die For


The town of Annapolis Royal has to be on your must-visit list when you are exploring Nova Scotia. Home to the Mi’kmaq Indians for 4000 years before it became one of North America’s earliest European settlements in 1605. It was ruled by the French until 1710 when the British took over and renamed the town Annapolis Royal. It was the capital of Nova Scotia until 1749. The town is rich with history and boasts one of the best Candlelight Graveyard tours you’ll ever experience. If that wasn’t enough there is also a 17-acre garden for you to explore complete with woodlands, a Victorian Garden and a Rose Garden. Those should be enough to explain why Annapolis Royal is a must visit when you are touring Nova Scotia.

Cannons protect the Fort from invaders

Fort Anne National Historic Site

You cannot visit Annapolis Royal and not visit Fort Anne. It is the first national heritage site to be recognised in Canada and it plays a major part of the history of Atlantic Canada. A bastioned fort that is completely open to the public. There is a small museum on site with artefacts, murals and plenty of information about the defenders and the role of the fort.

What Fort Anne looked like in its hey day

What I loved was walking the grounds. You can walk the perimeter and down into the trenches as well. All built to protect the inhabitants.

Earthen walls and trenches part of the defences at Fort Anne National Historic Site

The oldest building on the site dates back to French rule in 1708. It was the Powder Magazine building and it looks almost identical to when it was first built. You didn’t want to start a fire in that building as this is where they stored all their gunpowder.

The oldest building on site at Fort Anne dates back to the French colony in 1708

The Gunpowder lodge built in 1708 by the French

Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

A very short walk down St George street you will discover the 2015 Canadian Garden of the Year, Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens. 17 acres of intimate and breathtaking horticultural beauty are all around you as you explore your way through the maze of trails.

Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

There are 17 acres of paradise at Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

Of particular note for me were three areas. The Victorian Garden in its multicoloured splendour.

Inside the Victorian Garden at Annapolisi Royal Historic Gardens

The Rose Garden with the largest collection of roses in the Maritimes.

Samples of the beautiful roses in the Rose GArden

And this little pond surrounded by trees and shrubs. I could sit here and read a book all day long.

A beautiful pond and natural setting in teh Annapolis Royal gardens

There is also a complete replica of an Acadian House tucked into a corner of the gardens. It is the only one fo its kind in the Maritimes and represents what the Acadians would have lived in pre the deportation to France and Louisiana.

A replica Acadian House at Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

Restaurant Compose

All of this adventuring has me famished. Tonight it will be dining by the Sea at Restaurant Compose. Normal enough looking from the street it is the back dining area that wows with it’s view.

Dinner at Restaurant Compose in Annapolis Royal

The view at Restaurant Compose Annapolis Royal

I dined on Schnitzel as the sunset came upon us. Not sure if you can schedule your meal for it but well worth the effort if you can arrange it.

Schnitzel for dinner at Restaurant Compose

The sunset view from Restaurant Compose

Delicious and an almost perfect end to my day. I have only one thing left to do before I call it a night and that is a …

Candlelight Graveyard Tour

You have to stay awake till 9:15 pm for this adventure. It has been running since 1991 and the creator and guide Alan Melanson has only missed a handful of tours since he created it. Rated as the BEST in Nova Scotia, Alan is in full character for the tour.

Time for a haunted Ghost Walk tour in Annapolis Royal

We meet at Fort Anne and then follow Alan as he walks and talks us through the history towards the oldest English Graveyard in Canada. He knows almost every grave and family history in the cemetery. It really is a tour de force performance. In fact, almost 1/3 of the attendees are return guests who brought friends with them.

Annapolis Royal Ghost tour in the cementary

It only costs $9 for adults and $5 for kids. It is the cheapest and best 1.5 hours you will spend. Trust me.

This is just a tease of what you can explore in Annapolis Royal. There are plenty of neat shops, galleries and cafes to check out as well. I hope you enjoy Annapolis Royal as much as I have. My only regret is that I’m only spending a day here. Next time I’ll plan for a few more.

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Disclosure: General

Thanks to Tourism Nova Scotia for the support to make this travel series possible. My views and opinions are 100% my own.

About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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